Belgium could run entirely on green energy
By 2050 Belgium could run entirely on renewable energy, suggests a study commissioned by the country’s respective energy ministers and conducted by the Federal Planning Bureau, the Flemish Institute for Technological Research Vito and the Walloon consultancy ICEDD. This is the first time researchers allot such a huge potential to renewable energy in Belgium. “Hundred percent renewable is possible, but only if all options are mobilized”, says Vito researcher Wouter Nijs. The turnabout will require enormous interventions; among them solar panels on just about every roof in the country, a tenfold increase in the number of wind turbines at sea and on land, and the optimal exploitation of other renewable energy sources. According to the researchers, this shift will demand “drastic adjustments to the grid, spatial planning and building stock”. In financial terms it translates as 300 tot 400 billion euros, which is about as much as the country’s GDP of one year. But it will offer a whole range of savings and advantages as well. Expenditure on fossil fuels and environmental and healthcare costs will decrease considerably as a result of the reduced CO2 emissions, and once the cape of 2040 has been rounded, a possible benefit of 10 billion per annum could even be possible. Not to mention the 20 000 to 60 000 additional jobs that would have been created by 2030. However, due to its surface limitations, Belgium does not produce enough biomass and will always be partially dependent of foreign energy import. But compared to today’s import of 83%, the import in future would amount to15% to 42% only. Talking about 100% green energy by 2050 is a “relatively extreme” hypothesis, Nijs admits. “But that was the purpose of the exercise. And if 100% is feasible, so too is 80% and 50%. It does come at a higher cost, but it’s up to society to make that choice.” Flemish energy minister Freya Van den Bossche SP.A and her cabinet are positive about the study, which will play a key role when the Flemish Energy Agency drafts its renewable energy action next year. “It offers a wide selection of possible routes that we can explore,” Van den Bossche’s cabinet noted.